Vision for special needs education agreed
"We know parents want the very best for their children and we recognise that there are strong feelings in the community about this change. We want to work closely with all parents as we take these plans forward."Laura Mayes, cabinet member for chidlren's services
A vision to secure first-class education and facilities for all special needs pupils in Wiltshire has been agreed by council leaders.
At a recent cabinet meeting Wiltshire Council agreed to invest in ambitious plans designed to improve outcomes for all 3,500 special needs pupils in Wiltshire in both special and maintained schools.
Under the plans, Larkrise, St Nicholas and Rowdeford schools would be brought together as a single school under one executive leadership team no later than September 2021, and then to a site at Rowde in the future.
The closure of the school buildings would happen at an appropriate time after the single school opens in September 2023.
The new school at Rowde would be spacious and have small, purpose-built child-friendly units to meet every child's needs.
Under the wider plans there would be:
- Increased access to health support in schools.
- Reduction of travel times with the school at Rowde.
- Increased investment in resource base places in local schools linked to the proposed new special school. This will be part of a wider review.
- A flexible curriculum.
- Better outreach training and coordination.
- Post 16+ provision on the Rowde site, co-ordinated from the site.
Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children's services, said: "All pupils deserve to have access to a first-class education in a great school. We know parents want the very best for their children and we recognise that there are strong feelings in the community about this change. We want to work closely with all parents as we take these plans forward.
"We are bold and ambitious for all our children both now and for the future. This is our chance to do something transformational to create a system of excellence that helps all our 3,500 children with special needs."At the meeting cabinet agreed to:
- Establish a new maintained special school with an executive leadership team for St Nicholas, Rowdeford and Larkrise no later than 1 September 2021.
- Larkrise and St Nicholas to stay in use on the current sites until the new provision is ready and it is appropriate for pupils to transition to the new school campus at a site at Rowde.
- Expansion of the existing Rowdeford site to accommodate up to 400 pupils as part of the new special school by September 2023.
- Approve the closure of St Nicholas, Rowdeford and Larkrise school as a related proposal on the 31 August 2021. Closure of buildings would happen at an appropriate time after September 2023.